Author (and Zen Buddhist) Jane Hirshfield debuts “poem about the presidency” in Washington Post

The Washington Post today published “On the Fifth Day,” a new “poem about the presidency” authored by Jane Hirshfield. “On the Fifth Day,” according to the Washington Post, will be read by Hirshfield from the stage at the March for Science on April 22. Hirshfield, who has been heralded as one of our finest contemporary…

Rod Meade Sperry
14 April 2017
Jane Hirshfield. Photo by Adam Phillips. (Public domain.)

The Washington Post today published “On the Fifth Day,” a new “poem about the presidency” authored by Jane Hirshfield.

“On the Fifth Day,” according to the Washington Post, will be read by Hirshfield from the stage at the March for Science on April 22.

Hirshfield, who has been heralded as one of our finest contemporary poets, is a Zen Buddhist — though she resists the label of  “Zen poet.” As told in her Poetry Foundation bio:

[Hirshfield] put aside her writing for nearly eight years […] to study at the San Francisco Zen Center. “I felt that I’d never make much of a poet if I didn’t know more than I knew at that time about what it means to be a human being,” Hirshfield once said. “I don’t think poetry is based just on poetry; it is based on a thoroughly lived life. And so I couldn’t just decide I was going to write no matter what; I first had to find out what it means to live.

Hirshfield is also an essayist and translator. Her numerous works include 1988’s Of Gravity & Angels, which won the California Book Award in Poetry; National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001); and most recently, The Beauty.

The poem may be read online now at the Washington Post‘s Post Everything section.

Rod Meade Sperry. Photo by Megumi Yoshida, 2024

Rod Meade Sperry

Rod Meade Sperry is the editor of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Guide (published by Lion’s Roar), and the book A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation: Practical Advice and Inspiration from Contemporary Buddhist Teachers. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his partner and their tiny pup, Sid.